Nightmare - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
My nightmare showed me my past, the memories it won't allow me to remember, the ones it shut off from my conscious brain. I saw a lot of girls who all looked exactly the same as me. They were in a white tent of sorts in cubicles. All of them were being raped by men. Men who had paid money to the couple outside the tent. I heard a transaction happening outside where I was standing. A man entered wearing a red bow tie and started the rape. I woke up. It was only a nightmare after all, right... not a memory... right? There is no red bow tie man... right? But then the dreaming brain makes visual puns, and so the red bow tie could be a thing to tie another person up with that was red, such as a red ribbon. When tied on at the beginning and end it acts as a signal to the brain to cut out the memories in between. And then there is the time I was taken into the forest in a white dress, wearing one red ribbon and one white, when I got home only the white ribbon was still there. I recall it because the red ribbon was velvet and I loved it more for that softness. Nightmares of fiction, nightmares of history, how they blend together in such terrible ways.
At the start of the nightmare I was invited into a dark house, beyond the walls folks would normally assume were the boundaries of the dwelling. Behind them was a house of horrors, people trapped below floor boards, seen through areas with missing planks. I ran. Upon leaving there were shots fired and I hid behind an old friend I haven't seen in years.
Then I was somewhere else, caring for a baby, not my baby, just a baby girl. There was a man too, and at times he asked to care for the baby. Yet when I took the baby back from him she spoke. She said he had hurt her "down below." I took her to the toilet to see if she was injured, yet as I held her over the toilet to "potty," her brain fell out of her head and disappeared into the clear water below. The dream changed again and I was in a room full of people who had known the baby. I asked them if it was true about the man, that he'd hurt her, they said it was.
Soon I was in a supermarket as if nothing had happened, browsing the aisles, when a friend arrived unexpectedly. He was the sort of friend that came and went as he wished. I said that he'd been gone a long time, but it was a relief that he'd returned. He said we should go back to the house of horrors, and so we did. Only this time it was in daylight and there was nobody under the floor boards. It was more as I'd imagine a film set to look. He asked if there was a mirror, that we should find it if there was one, but there was not. Instead there was only an old piece of battered metal, strong though, as perhaps a fragment of armour would be. And so we left, the nightmare over, a new day stretching ahead of us.
The nightmare is more of a night terror, because it feels as if I might die from the pain in my brain, I am desperately trying to wake up, screaming for help, yet nobody comes. A leave my bedroom on hands and knees, clawing my way to the stairs. Soon, I have a feeling that someone is in my house, that they have given some sort of drug and everything I see isn't real. So I ask myself if my house looks right, are there any clues to say that I'm not standing in my living room with a strange man on the couch. And there in the corner of the room is a Christmas tree, bare of any ornaments. Christmas was sometime ago and there is no tree in my house. So either I am in a nightmare or this is another interrogation. They ask how I know what I know; I tell them it is all obvious, I'm clever, that's all. Soon the scene changes, and there are several of them now, only we are in a cafe and they are attempting to create a friendly dream. Perhaps they too were scared I would die. We are in a cafe, and the man wears a smile that isn't a smile. So I say I will speak with him if we move to another table away from the others. We do. At the table are toys for children, things I can touch that will calm my brain. I can only tell him again that I figure things out naturally, that it's easy for me. Then I awake in my bed, my brain feeling shot through and coughing from the tail end of a cold. It was the most intense nightmare and I was never more glad to see the light of day.
Soon my skin was as the surface of a boiling stew. Beneath the thin skin bubbled toxins, the pains of my past leaving my blood, seeking release. And so it was. One by one the bubbles burst as easily as pimples. I looked in a mirror, perhaps this would take a little while to heal... but after that it would be all gone and I'd be ready to live anew, to feel as strong as I'd only ever pretended to be in the past. I guess my nightmare was a dream in a garish mask, but rather that than the other way around.
At first there is music, a choir of sorts as in church... then I hear God and he tells me to go to the other part of my brain, to go through the doorway to a place I'll be safe... The dream changes and I feel a sense of falling, as if I am entering a part of myself that was hidden. Perhaps I went the wrong way, or perhaps it is now safe for me to go the wrong way, now that I'm all grown up, to see what I was saved from.
I find myself in an empty room, except there is child who looks nothing like a child. She is wrapped so tightly inside a thin mattress that I can see only her feet and somehow... her right arm... which has become a knife from her elbow to the place her fingers should be. I run to her, try to calm her, yet she wields the knife in blind panic, unable to tell friend from foe. Someone pulls me away from the blade and instead I find myself sitting on the end of a large bed. I had thought it empty, but soon there is a man inside it, old and fat. I move away to a chair, unsure of why I am there, but there is something about money and I can't leave just yet. The fat man speaks... sitting up in bed he asks me to rub sunscreen into his upper back and shoulders. I refuse. I tell him to ask someone else to do it, there are lots of people in the room but they don't move... then I awake safe in my bed... wondering if I was the girl in the mattress, part human, part weapon, fighting the entire world because she never saw the face of her true enemy.
The nightmare was always the same. Paralyzed, naked, cold. The masked man would come closer with the knife, making sweeping movements to a music only he could hear. He would be closer, then further away and then closer again.
No matter which path she took it always came back to the hangman's noose at the center of the maze. There was only one way out.
The ghost was more silent than the grave it arose from, staring with heavy lidded eyes and a slack mouth. Her cheekbones accentuated the skeletal look and in her gaze my mind was robbed of emotion. Instead of running, or screaming I stood more still than the mossy statue in the heart of the graveyard and just as cold. She beckoned with fingers that rapidly faded to only a suggestion of form. I passed each stone without taking account of the path until I stood in a place that was unrecognizable. She became more solid again, but this time her skin bore many silver scars, thick and jagged. I began to think new things, "I want to stay here with her, forever." The thought became a desire and my insides lit with an intensity to make it possible. My body crumpled to the dirt, leaves and mud met the side of my face and my knees curled up like an unborn. It was then I heard Leon shout my name, over and over. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing would come. He was frantic, yelling, scared.
Emily shook her head mutely. She'd been here an hour tops, or this was some nightmare. She breathed. It wasn't real, how could it be. “Choose a card.” She shook her head. “Why refuse me?”
“This is a dream! You're not real. Now I demand you melt into a puddle, then this damn haunted house will dissolve and I'll wake up in my bed.”
The ghoul laughed. “Do you think you could have survived so long without eating or drinking? Why don't you think back to that day you spent under the bridge, skipping school. What really happened? Blocked it out have we? I would too. You came to a sticky end, my love. Then you came to me. I can't manipulate the living half was well as I can the dead. And that's what you are. So let's stop all the pretence and get on with the game. Choose a card.”
It was as if God had adjusted the colours of the world in the night, like it was as easy as twisting one of those old plastic dials on a TV set. Everything was brighter than it should be; the trees were not just green but radiant virescent hues that burned themselves in Jenna's sleepy retinas. The houses were as gay as if they'd been repainted by moonlight and now stood vibrant in the golden rays that fell unfettered though the clear sky. The road that should be grey was a sleek river of black with perfect paint lines and the street-lamps were blue. But they had never been blue, not ever. Everything was so right it was wrong - really wrong. The front yards that had been dishevelled with the decrepitude of late winter just yesterday were a riot of colourful blooms. Jenna turned back to look at her house, the curtain twitched! Someone was in there! She hurried to the front door only to find it was locked. She slapped the wood. A face appeared at the window...her face...but brighter...
The basement was pitch black; she was as blind as if her eyes had been gouged. Her body washed cold. She brought her fingers to her eye sockets; they were still there. She turned back to the stairs and tried to run up, but her foot fell through each one like it was a mere projection. So how had she walked down them? She leant forwards to touch the stair and felt a fabric fall down her arm, soft and velvety. Cold metal touched her forehead, one grope told her it was a pointed hat, like a fairy tale crown. She grabbed it and a mirror appeared in front of her, glowing like a television screen. It was her, broken face and all, dressed like some picture book queen. She swallowed. “The queen must die,” isn't that what the ghost said? Without sight of any knife in the mirror the image began to bleed from the neck. She raised her hand to feel the sticky warm fluid about her throat. She screamed; the image laughed. In a blink she was in dirty jeans once more, facing the ghoul. “Choose a card.”
Riddle me this. How can I call it a nightmare, if it doesn't leave my presence when I awake?
It was almost the bewitching hour and Mia found herself in a mall. It was empty other than herself but the lights were on, almost too brightly and in the glare the clothes were limp on the racks. At first it was silent, then steadily the music grew “If you want to be happy…” It was colder than usual and she could feel a draft on her face and smell something that reminded her of dark wintry nights. She was about to start walking when her eyes caught glimpses of ghostly forms. She looked harder. Either they were there or not. As she stared their outlines became more solid, like chalk people on a sidewalk and Mia almost cried out in alarm...
An ominous boom startled Elsa out of her abysmal nightmare. Her cheeks were wet and her body was bathed in a cold sweat. The sheets were twisted around her limbs, probably because she was thrashing in her sleep. Her heart pounded against her chest. Elsa trembled. The room was entirely dark. No light anywhere. The remnants of her nightmare still clung to her mind, haunting her. Elsa had no trouble imagining assassins lurking in the murky darkness of her room. Another flash of lightning illuminated the room in blinding light. Elsa let out a frightened cry and buried her face into her pillow. Even her breaths trembled. She swallowed and once again turned to see the endless darkness of her room. She couldn’t see anything.
Every night it was the same. The inside-out-man would rap on the windows and shake the doors before shimmying up the drainpipe and climbing in the open sash window. He would creep from room to room looking for me, calling my name. The eventually I'd be found, trembling under a blanket. He'd raise a silver dispenser of inside-out powder over my head and shake.
The forest troll licked his rubbery green lips, all the while staring at Tom like he was a delicate morsel. Tom took a step backwards only to find himself violently hoisted up by one ankle. As the blood rushed to his head he glanced upward to see a thick dirty rope digging into his skin. Then rustling came from all directions as trolls stepped out from behind the trees brandishing carving knives and two-pronged forks.
In my nightmares I am trapped on a mental ward. I can’t move my hands without feeling the restriction of the straps. My head is as clear, no trace of the “madness.” I strain against the black polyester with every ounce of strength and still I can’t budge. My back hurts right from the base of my spine to the tail bone. Saliva is pooling in the back of my mouth. The staff have gone. I am alone. Heart pounding ready to explode, my eyes scan left and right for signs of someone coming to help. No-one. Worn green curtains hang limp on flaking chrome rings and though the gap passers by pay me no attention at all.
I am back in my personal hell. A cheap analogue clock ticks loudly on a nearby wall, each second marked. I need to turn, I need to swallow and mindless squirming won’t help - so I think of watching the show” 24,” what would Jack Bauer do? I turn in the thumb of my right hand, fold it in as flat as possible and pull, not caring if it dislocates. My hand comes right out. Then I do the same with the left. Even with two hands free it isn’t enough, I can’t turn. If I sit up I may be caught and re-tied too tight for this little trick to work a second time. I point my right foot so hard the muscles become painful and I twist it until it is free, but my left is bound too tight. I twist, some relief for my back and easier to swallow. A nurse comes and says “Oh, I see they untied you.” I agree and manage a staged smile, she unstraps my last leg and I turn to my side. I’m sure Bauer would be out of here by now, armed and dangerous, but not me. I’m a pacifist, scared of the “professional care” that leaves me scarred on the inside. The bleach tinctured ward fades and the nightmare intensifies to the next level.
No longer is the door open, no bright light comes from the hallway. No handle, no way out. Four concrete walls, a linoleum floor, a toilet with no paper and a bare mattress - this “seclusion room” is a prison cell by another name...
In the darkness of a dream the mind would conjure up magical beasts with jaws that were home to razor teeth. They would move in an unnatural ways maybe a limp or be severely hunched over. Soon the breathing would increase rapidly and become gasps of breath. On awakening, despite the nightmare ending, a ghastly feeling of being watched by invisible eyes prolongs an uneasy feeling.
I'm glad the I don't dream of him now though, because that dream always ends in the same nightmare. But unlike everyone else I know, when I wake I remember that my nightmare was both real and worse than the fragmented reenactment my brain offers. Instead of relief on waking I get the trauma made fresh and raw. I get to see Caspian screaming at me to run as he pulled an inadequate eight-inch blade from his faded jeans. How grown up he'd seemed at seventeen, how young that seems now. But no matter how many times the nightmare comes, I welcome it the next time again, hope for it even... because the beginning is the only time I will ever be with him, hear his laughter and bask in the warmth of smile I took for granted every single day of the short time I had a brother.
Tiredness swallowed him whole. His ebony lashes fluttered and oblivion engulfed him. Sleep came over him like cruel shattering waves, more vivid than ever before. As though the intensity of his exhaustion had created a perfect canvas for them.